After how quickly and intensely I progressed during TIGJam, this week felt like a slog through molasses, but looking back on it things actually went pretty decently. I’ve got a basic menu system implemented now, which isn’t much to look at yet but has all the functionality I’ll need and should be easy to improve visually when I want to tackle that problem. I certainly took some wrong turns in the process of developing it, but I guess I can chalk those up as learning experiences.
I’ve also been trying to come up with a more robust input system for the game: Originally, I wanted to get some sort of Gamepad/Joystick support added this week, but as it turns out Adobe have been somewhat less than persistent in getting game controller functionality implemented in most versions of AIR/Flash, so there’s still no native support. Some people have come up with workarounds, but these don’t have the platform independence that drew me to AS3 in the first place, and also seem to tend to be a bit unstable. I’m experimenting with a few of them now, but probably the smart money is on structuring my input system in a way such that when the opportunity presents itself, either via Adobe getting their shit together or someone making a good stable and flexible extension, I can implement it into my input system with a relatively minimal amount of work.
Aside from those things, I’ve gone ahead and fixed a bunch of little bugs and interface issues which have been a moderate irritant whenever I want to work on this project.
Now: I’d really like to push this somewhere where I can get at least test versions of the first few areas up and running, and I think it’s a real good time to start thinking about what needs to be achieved to make that happen. Throwing aside concerns about particle effects and other things that will make these areas look especially outstanding (for the time being), what needs to be done to have these first areas of the game essentially functional?
FIRST: Attacking. The animations for this have yet to be done, and only the most minimal of hooks are in place in the code to allow it to happen. It actually makes a lot of sense to me to start with getting the animations created and implemented and then, from there, make them work in code in a way that feels consistent with what the player is seeing. Intuitively this would seem backwards, but I think based on my extensive experience with this sort of game I’ll be able to tell what feels good based on what I’m seeing while controlling my character and then build it into the code from there.
SECOND: Entities. I need to at least have the basic entity system in order to have something to test the attacking on. The work I’ve done in breaking the character behaviors out into separate components is I think going to be a really good start towards developing a general purpose entity system which I can use for enemies, environmental effects, and scripted events. At least the bones of this will need to be in place to get this test area running.
THIRD: Levels. The art won’t need to be perfect, but I need to sketch out the crashed Titan Seed and the rolling hills that comprise the first areas of the game. I’m actually not quite sure what my work-flow will be here, whether I’ll start with the art or with the geometry: There’s good reasons to do it either way, and I may end up trying both.
Once I finish those three things, plus a few other miscellaneous tasks, I will have a basically playable section of the game done which, if I understand the terminology, would basically put this game into its alpha phase. Well, maybe 40+ weeks is a long time to get into alpha, but I’m still really excited about the idea of getting there! First things first: For the rest of the day, I’ll be breaking the above points down into a task-by-task, and perhaps even try to come up with a daily schedule to work through to bring it to fruition.
Of course, the next heat wave will come up before too long, and who knows how consistently I’ll be able to work… But having a task list, having a definite milestone to look forward to, that might be just what I need to carry me through.